A Steinbach-born farm cat named Smarty Pants will hit the big screens on Thursday as a co-star in a film called “A Dog’s Way Home”.
The cat currently lives in La Broquerie with her owner, Courtney Voth, who trains animals to act in movies. Smarty Pants began as an animal actor when she was six weeks old and has done commercials and shows ever since. Still, Voth indicates that this blockbuster film is her biggest role ever.
According to Voth, her feline friend has an investigative personality and will often seek out strange noises as opposed to hiding from them, as the term ‘scaredy-cat’ might suggest. She feels at least part of Smarty Pants’ adventurous spirit comes from her upbringing in rural Manitoba.
“I definitely think farm cats are less afraid of things because they’ve seen tractors and loud noises; things that a cat living secluded in an apartment wouldn’t really see.”
Voth’s experience as an animal coach has taught her that most pets are stimulated by food, but there too she feels Smarty Pants is set apart.
“Smarty Pants isn’t actually very food-motivated, so when I work her on set usually she gets bored of treats so I’ll have to bring out toys. She is often more like a dog than a cat; she’ll work to play or even just to get attention.”
The cat’s dog-like qualities go beyond merely her likes and dislikes, but her overall intelligence as well. Voth comments: “I have a few cats that work in film, and they are not as smart as her. As far as I know, Smarty Pants is the only cat in Manitoba that holds a ‘trick-dog’ title.”
These tricks include high fives, sitting, standing, and walking on command. For “A Dog’s Way Home,” Voth says she had to teach Smarty Pants the most challenging tricks of her career, however, these maneuvers will only be revealed to those who watch the movie.
Despite all of her cat’s natural intellect, Voth believes that pretty much any animal can become an actor if they receive the proper training and care. “There are actually all kinds of animals that are really smart, we just don’t give them enough credit for their intelligence.” As if to prove this Voth mentions that she has even trained a chicken.
Voth says she would love to meet other animal owners in southeastern Manitoba who are interested in helping their pets gain celebrity status and indicates that she is open to conversations.